How does a gardener remember anything without a garden journal?
I’ll admit, there was a period of time when I didn’t keep a garden journal and those years are now lost to me, they exist only in my mind and in a few faded photographs, like this one from my first garden some decades ago.
But not the last eight years!
For the last eight years, I’ve written down snippets of gardening facts and observations in my 10 year gardener’s journal so I can go back, review them, and remember!
Everyday, I can look back at that same day, all the way back to 2001, all on the same page, and see what was going on, what the temperatures were, what I did, what I harvested and other interesting tidbits.
Just look at all the fun facts and observations for August 26:
2001 – 83/67
2002 – 83/65 Harvested last of zucchini, tons of tomatoes, peppers
2003 – 92/67 Picked a few cherry tomatoes. Very dry, Watered in evening.
2004 – 81/67 Rain overnight
2005 – 80/67
2006 – 86/68 Harvested tomatoes, peppers, zucchini, eggplant. Spread some mulch, made more salsa.
2007 – 82/63 Picked a few tomatoes & more grapes. Made grape jam. Found an orchid in bloom – Brassia rex ‘Barbara’
Many gardeners don’t embrace garden journaling and spend valuable journaling time coming up with excuses!
They don’t have the right kind of journal. Their pens are the wrong color, size or are completely out of ink. They worry it won’t be perfect! They’ll mess it up somehow. They’ll skip a day or two. Then what’s the use, it’s not a complete record?
Or they think that no one will care about it. It’s a waste of time. They’ve never been good at writing.
I don’t accept any of those excuses. I say embrace garden journals for a happier life!
Here are five tips to get past that feeling of seeing that blank first page of a brand new journal and wondering what to do.
Don’t wait for the perfect journal to write in. While some of us bloggers, including Robin, Mr. McGregor’s Daughter and Phillip, have Lee Valley’s 10 Year Gardener’s Journal, it’s not necessary to have that particular one to embrace journaling. Any blank book or paper you can write on will work. I think Elizabeth Lawrence even used 3 x 5 index cards.
Don’t strive for perfection. You’ll miss some days, you’ll write illegibly sometimes, or you’ll write incomplete sentences and incoherent thoughts occasionally, after working yourself to exhaustion in your garden. None of those reasons should keep you from trying it. Just accept that life, gardens, and garden journals, aren’t perfect.
Don’t stress over ‘what’ to include. Include whatever comes to mind, whatever you want to remember. I record daily high and low temps, if it rained/how much, first blooms, first veggies, what veggies I harvested, first frost, last frost, and what I did in the garden, to name a few things. And I record when I mow the lawn, or at least have done that for the past several years, and for the past two years I’ve kept track of how many times. But your journal can include whatever you want to include.
Don’t worry if others will read your garden journal. Your garden journal should be for you, the gardener. If you are concerned others will read it, hide it! If you want others to read it, leave it out where they can find it. But write it for yourself and don’t worry if it makes sense to anyone else. It’s your journal.
Don’t think you have to wait until January 1st to get started. When starting a journal or diary, there’s always the temptation to start on the 1st day of the year. But the best time to start a garden journal if you haven’t started one is today. Just start writing and if you keep at it, after a month or so, journal writing should be a habit, and you’ll do it without thinking.
Embrace garden journals for a happier life!
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